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Friday's Energy Stocks: Midstream players dominate sector gains to end quarter

The last trading day of the quarter saw energy equities swing back into the positive side of the ledger while broader indexes finished in the red territory. On Friday, March 31, the SNL Energy Index climbed 0.71% to close at 291.81, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 0.31% to end at 20,663.22 and the S&P 500 dipped 0.23%, settling at 2,362.72.

The Trump administration's new order for the federal government to dismantle or review its climate rules will have "no material positive credit implications" for major coal-fired generators, Moody's said in a March 31 report.

The order will "moderate the pace of [coal plant] retirements in the next decade," Moody's said, but many coal-fired facilities will still need financial support to survive. Despite those headwinds, companies that face plant shutdowns, including Dynegy Inc. and NRG Energy Inc., have "no concrete proposals for such support," according to Moody's.

Dynegy shares climbed 2.34% to cap the trading week at $7.86, while NRG added 1.80% to end at $18.70, both on thin volume.

Exelon Corp. has taken over the ownership and operation of the James A. FitzPatrick nuclear power plant in New York from Entergy Corp. for $110 million. Shares of Exelon increased 0.78% in brisk trading to close at $35.98, and Entergy gained 0.15% on light volume to finish at $75.96.

The SNL Merchant Generator Index rose 0.26% to close at 84.84.

Coal shares resisted the upward pull of the sector, with the SNL Coal Index dropping 0.47% to 70.46. Bottom-performers include Ramaco Resources Inc., which lost 7.82% in strong trading to close at $9.67; Westmoreland Resource Partners LP, which slid down 7.69% on slim volume to finish at $4.80; and Foresight Energy LP, which retreated 4.28% in active trading to close out the week at $6.26.

Midstream players and master limited partnerships grabbed the biggest gains in Friday's trading session, as the SNL Midstream Energy Index climbed 1.42% to close at 122.93 and the SNL MLP Index added 1.32% to finish at 315.22.

Sunoco Logistics Partners LP advanced 2.26% in light trading, settling at $24.42. The partnership completed a $300 million sale of preferred equity to Energy Transfer Equity LP in a private placement and also announced plans to register an additional 20,268,825 common units in connection with the Energy Transfer Partners LP merger. ETE picked up 1.60% in robust trading to end the session at $19.73, while ETP was up 2.44% on light volume to close the week at $36.52.

Archrock Partners LP spiked 1.30% in above-average trading volume to finish at $17.16, following the close of its five-year, $1.1 billion asset-based revolving credit facility. Archrock Partners plans to use proceeds from the new credit facility to repay borrowings from its existing $825 million revolving credit facility and $150 million term loan set to mature in May 2018.

NYMEX May natural gas futures finished slightly lower, as early efforts higher failed to hold amid a backdrop of weakening fundamentals, but with revisions to midrange weather forecasts driving some support back into the market. The contract posted early gains to a $3.242/MMBtu high, but reversed to a post a $3.163/MMBtu low and settled the week's closing session 0.1 cent lower at $3.190/MMBtu.

Market prices and index values are current as of the time of publication and are subject to change.